Travel: A Quick Guide to Tucson

9:52 AM

Tucson sits in a desert valley between 5 mountain ranges and is filled with giant saguaro cacti, Mexican food, and old-school adobe architecture.

Its a starkly beautiful place that comes to life on the second full weekend of every February for the city-wide Tucson Gem and Mineral Show. Jewelry designers and gem traders from all over the country swarm the city in a dizzying two-week jewelry frenzy.

Almost every hotel, field, and back alley in the city is turned into a giant tented gem and mineral market - its a sight to behold.

I spent a weekend exploring the city and and the gem shows with my amazing jewelry designer grandparents, these are some of our favorite spots!

Gem Shows - try the little guys. While the crowds are flocking to the many huge shows in the city, some of the best deals can be found at the smaller, out of the way shows where vendors are really trying to move their product. My jewelry designer grandparents swear by a number of the vendors at the small Arizona Mineral and Fossil Show held at the Hotel Tucson City Center. I picked up some extremely well-priced lapis lazuli, kunzite, and larimar brought straight from the mines in Afghanistan.

See the best sunset in Arizona in the Saguaro National Park. Drive just 15 minutes or so from town into the beginnings of Saguaro National Park and watch the sunset from Gates Pass. The pass road takes you up into the foothills of Tucson Mountain Park. There giant saguaro cacti as far as the eye can see, shimmering mountain lakes off in the distance, and craggy mountains framing the setting sun. Bring a picnic and a bottle of wine - the scenic overlook is one of the prettiest sunset spots I've experienced.

Enjoy a fancy dinner at The Arizona Inn. This enchanting Spanish-style hotel was built in 1930 as a desert oasis for Hollywood starlets and big-time politicians (the original owner was good friends with Eleanor Roosevelt). The bar and dining area are elegant yet cozy and the food is incredible. Try the 3 course tasting menu ($55/person or $75 with wine pairings) which changes seasonally.

original photo from Dan_DC on Flickr

Have a cocktail and see a show at The Congress Hotel. Another of Tucson's historic hotels built in 1919, the Congress has been revitalized into a watering hole gear towards the young and tattooed with several bars, a cute restaurant, and a music venue. Excellent people and outfit watching!

photo by Living GWG

Experience the desert tranquility of The DeGrazia Gallery. Nestled in the foothills of the Catalina Mountains, the gallery's original adobe buildings were the home and studio of the artist Ettore DeGrazia. The architecture is incredible (floors made of slices of cacti - check out that rad texture!),

the museum layout is inspired, and its generally just a beautiful place to spend a couple of lazy afternoon hours.

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  1. gorgeous pics!
    would love if you checked out my blog and we could follow each other x

  2. LOVE your blog, definitely following!

  3. Replies
    1. aw shucks, thanks! been following y'all's blog for a spell, so many great ideas! xoxo

  4. Need to get myself to Tucson! Great little guide girl!
    xo TJ

  5. Great photos! I love your style of photography. You know, I have been thinking about where to take a little 3-day weekend trip that wouldn't be too far form LA, and Tuscon is somewhere I've never been before. I'll have to look into it!

    1. Thank you for the kind words :) I think Tucson would totally be doable in a 3-day from LA trip - I did drive to from LA but stopped halfway in a little town called Quartzite for this massive hippy flea market extravaganza that goes on there the weeks leading up to the gem shows in Tucson. Arizona is a strangely wonderful place!

  6. Love Tucson! I would love to visit some day.